GOLDEN, Colo., Jan. 19, 2015 –The Colorado School of Mines Society of Physics Students (SPS) chapter was awarded the “2014-15 Future Faces of Physics Award” – its second in two years, by the national SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma chapter.
This award helps the 175-student group continue outreach efforts to promote physics across cultural divides and encourage recruitment and retention of people underrepresented in STEM fields. Last year, SPS traveled to Berry Creek Middle School in Edwards and Gateway High School in Aurora to perform physics demonstrations, speak to students about the value of higher education and describe careers in engineering and applied science.
It was such a success, that both schools asked them to return again this year.
“This award gives us the opportunity to spend two full days doing one of our favorite things: inspiring young students with the same excitement we feel in our studies here at Mines,” said junior Jordan Diemer, SPS vice president for outreach.
This year the team will focus on creating a "STEM Museum" exhibition where science classes will experience some of SPS’ popular experiments, such as the “bed of nails” demonstration. This experiment shows students that Newton’s first law of motion is true. (An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.) In the demo, a volunteer lays on a bed of 200 6-inch long nails while students place a small block of nails and cinder block on his or her chest. With a sledgehammer, students break the cinder block but the volunteer is unharmed. By spreading the volunteer’s weight over several nails, each individual nail uses less force and allows the person to stay in place without injury.
The group is also planning an interactive after-school seminar and will be working with students to build small-scale demos that they can keep and take home.
“We plan to make these annual events, returning each spring to meet and inspire a new class of future scientists, and re-inspire the veterans among them,” Diemer said.